Attracting and Engaging Millennials Is Much More Than Beer Carts and Slurpee Machines

By Tiffany Jones 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2030 millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. The business challenges and opportunities that this statistic creates was a key topic of discussion at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s “Attracting and Engaging Millennials” event. Nearly 100 attendees heard from executive leaders on how to engage and maintain the most qualified millennial employees. The event was held on Wednesday, April 12 at the Greektown Casino-Hotel and emceed by Alexandra Bahou of WXYZ- TV7.

Maximizing Talent in a Multi-Generational Workforce

This discussion was led by Dominic Andwan and Craig VanRaemdonck, both from PwC, and centered around the results of a global survey that was conducted in collaboration with University of Southern California and London Business School to find out what motivated employees. Among the research, the responses from Generation X and millennials were very different. While Generation X was more concerned with control over work, development opportunities and pay satisfaction, millennials ranked team cohesion, supervisor support and appreciation, and flexibility as higher motivators.


RELATED: MILLENNIAL TRUTH: A CLOSER LOOK AT HOW GEN-Y WORK IN TODAY’S WORKFORCE


Creating an Employee-Focused Environment

How you make a cultural change and not a cultural clash was the focus of this discussion led by Matt Bertman of Amerisure Insurance, Deidre Bounds of Ignite Social Media, Melissa Price of dPOP!, and Matthew Rossetti of ROSSETTI. The panel, moderated by Ashley Woods of the Detroit Free Press, discussed how to create environments that are engaging, comfortable and stimulating. Key takeaways included:

  • Be open and honest with communication. Millennials want to feel valued and know that their ideas are being heard.
  • Encourage the entrepreneurial spirit (create a purpose).
  • Have flexibility of where and when work needs to get done (flexible work hours).
  • Create great workspaces – indoors and outdoors.
  • Encourage the philosophy that working hard and playing hard can co-exist.
  • Be dedicated to strike the right work and home balance and have top management buy-ins
  • No matter the industry, employees must be committed to creating and respecting a culture for everyone.

Engagement Strategies to Improve ROI, Productivity and Employee Satisfaction

Sean Jackson of Sift, Mark Lanfear of Kelly Services, Angie Rohrer of Stryker and Tim Smith of Skidmore Studio led the panel discussion moderated by Lizz Glenn of Dale Carnegie Training that discussed how leadership can leverage technology and data to develop strategies that can impact retention, productivity and employee satisfaction. Key takeaways included:

  • Don’t concentrate just on millennials. Everyone can benefit from better engagement strategies.
  • Develop metrics. Measure what you manage. Having a baseline will help inform you on where you need to go.
  • Don’t group everyone together. Some millennials have Generation X personalities and vice versa. Stop labeling and stereotyping. One size doesn’t fit all.
  • It’s an oxymoron, but don’t try to retain employees. Equip them with all the tools and take all the energy they give, if only for a set amount of time. If you respect them enough to train them for their next job, chances are they may stick around longer.

Tiffany Jones is the director of communications at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

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Millennial Truth: A Closer Look at How Gen-Y Work in Today’s Workforce

By Daniel A. Washington

Kelly Services’ Mark Lanfear, vice president and global practice leader of life sciences solutions, has spent years helping health care companies get the most out of their millennial talent and the rapidly changing workforce.

millennialQuick to point out the surge of millennials entering the workforce, Lanfear describes the often-misunderstood employee group as “driven and more talented” than some employers would like to admit. The thought leader in talent management credits millennials for being efficient and often times the most valuable employees.

“I think the biggest myth when it comes to millennials is that they have an attention problem or a devotion or a loyalty problem,” Lanfear said during an interview with the Detroit Regional Chamber. “It’s just that problems get solved more quickly and because of the way in which millennials focus on their work they don’t spend nearly as much time on finding solutions as previous generations.”


RELATED: Attracting And Engaging Millennials Is Much More Than Beer Carts And Slurpee Machines


Recalling a recent conversation with his older brother, Lanfear said millennials attract attention from industry leaders and companies across the region for good reasons. He said he believes that the rapidly increasing entrant to the workforce is changing the way companies think about employment and what they must offer.

“Right now, quicker than any other time, millennials are forced to take the wheel,” he said. “We talk about millennials being 30 percent of the population but they are already 40 percent of management.”

The staggering statistic he said is due to what he refers to as the “silver tsunami,” a common metaphor to describe the aging workforce population.

Lanfear,Mark

Mark Lanfear, vice president and global practice leader of life sciences solutions at Kelly Services

“We have what I like to call the ‘silver tsunami’ happening faster than anyone could have predicted. This is the population (Generation X) that is leaving the workforce,” he said. “Not just because of age, because that’s happening with the baby boomers, but also because a lot of people enjoyed a lot of success in the 1980s, and so there are pockets of folks around the globe that are financially secure and are stepping away from the workforce.”

With retention and attraction on the minds of business leaders, Lanfear encourages a different perspective on the matter: maximize a millennial’s potential by providing challenges and assignments related to their passions and let go of the idea of retaining them.

“Retention is a word that I have been asking clients to move away from,” said Lanfear. “Retaining a millennial workforce is going to be a challenge because it’s against their nature to stay especially when there is not a challenge or passion for them to commit to.”

Despite the misconceptions and labels associated with millennials, Lanfear said he is confident that as more research is done, those in the age group will become more understood. The numbers suggest that management styles and work cultures in the future will be defined by millennials who will be forced to leave a lasting mark in their roles in leadership positions.

“The wheel is just simply being handed to millennials fast,” he said. “So, I think we will see a lot changes as to how they are perceived in the coming years.”

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

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